Japan Press Weekly
[Advanced search]
Past issues
Special issues
Fact Box
Feature Articles
Mail to editor
Mail magazine
HOME  > Past issues  > 2010 June 30 - July 6  > Proposed cut in proportional representation seats aims to lock out majority public opinion
> List of Past issues
Bookmark and Share
2010 June 30 - July 6 [ELECTION]

Proposed cut in proportional representation seats aims to lock out majority public opinion

June 24, 2010
Almost all parties except the Japanese Communist Party are calling for a reduction in the fixed number of Dietmembers in their election platforms for the House of Councilors, ostensibly as a measure to reduce wasteful spending. These moves are dangerous because their real intention is to shut out from the parliament people’s opinions opposing higher consumption tax rate and the relocation in Okinawa of the U.S. Futenma base.

The target of the proposed reduction is the seats elected in the proportional representation system. The ruling Democratic Party of Japan in its platform (Manifesto) for the House of Councilors election proposes to eliminate 80 proportional representation seats from the present fixed number of 180 seats in the House of Representatives. It also proposes to eliminate about 40 such seats for the House of Councilors. Prime Minister Kan Naoto declares that the proposal be implemented as soon as possible.

What would happen if the DPJ proposal to eliminate 80 Lower House proportional representation seats were carried out? If this formula is applied to the results of the 2009 general election of the House of Representatives, the two major parties, the Democratic Party of Japan and the Liberal Democratic Party, would monopolize nearly 95 percent of parliamentary seats. Thus, minor parties elected on the basis of proportional representation would be virtually shut out from the Diet.

The DPJ and the LDP are now working together for a de-facto grand coalition to carry out a substantial consumption tax increase and go ahead with the relocation of the U.S. Futenma base within Okinawa.

In an opinion survey jointly conducted in May by Ryukyu Shimpo (Okinawa) and the Mainichi Shimbun, 84 percent of respondents are opposed to building a new base at Henoko in Nago City, Okinawa. In a May survey by the Asahi Daily on the Constitution, 67 percent opted for “No change” in Article 9, surpassing by far those who opted for change in Article 9, accounting for 24 percent.

As regards an increase in the consumption tax, those in favor and those opposed are almost evenly matched. However, after PM Kan proposed a consumption tax increase, the cabinet approval rate showed a sharp decline.

If 95 percent of parliamentary seats were to be held by the DPJ and the LDP, such majority opinions of the general public will be locked out from the Diet where the two parties can do whatever they like to enact laws destructive to people’s livelihoods and peace. Some DPJ Dietmembers are reportedly worried about power politics possibly running rampant after the reduction in parliamentary seats is enforced following the House of Councilors election.

New parties, including the Your Party and the Sunrise Party of Japan, also call for cuts in the fixed number of Diet seats because they aim to join one of the two parties later based on the agreed policies of promoting structural reform policy, a consumption tax increase, and an adverse revision of Article 9 of the Constitution. The Your Party states that its goal is to help reorganize the political world.

In an international comparison of the number of parliamentarians representing the total population, Japan is in the lowest brackets. In a comparison of the number of parliamentarians per 100,000 population, Japan ranks 33rd out of 41 countries with a population of over 10 million with a two-house system. In Britain, which the DPJ upholds as a model, the fixed number of the Lower House seats is 646 representing a population of 61.02 million.

The Diet’s most fundamental role is to accurately reflect the will of the sovereign people. The election system should primarily serve to correctly mirror public opinions. The single-seat constituency system should be abolished and the whole election system should be changed to one with proportional representation as the centerpiece.
> List of Past issues
  Copyright (c) Japan Press Service Co., Ltd. All right reserved